The Gig Harbor High School wrestling team ended up with two state placers at the Class 3A Mat Classic state tournament over the weekend at the Tacoma Dome.
Senior John Bittinger took fifth place in the 152-pound weight class and junior Zayne Ball placed seventh in the 160-pound weight class. Sophomore Trevor Zeitner also qualified for state in the 145-pound weight class and did not place.
The closest Gig Harbor came to a state title this year was with Bittinger, who found himself in the semifinals on day two, facing Kamiakin’s Sione Halo.
But Bittinger struggled, going down 4-0 in the first two rounds before eventually losing a 10-3 decision.
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“Sione is a super hard-nosed guy,” said Gig Harbor coach Jacob Spadoni. “He just stays in a really good stance. He couldn’t get him moving, couldn’t get anything moving. He’s just a tough kid. We knew it was going to be a tough match to get us in. He was the guy to go through.”
Bittinger lost his next match to Bonney Lake’s Cody Coffey, but bounced back to beat Southridge’s Steven Saltz to take fifth place.
Ball won his first match of the tournament against Hudson’s Bay, but dropped his next match to Kennewick’s Emilio Ramos. Ball lost his consolation match to Standwood’s Riley Van Scoy, but bounced back in his final match, beating Yelm’s Chayton Miller, to take seventh place.
“(Both Bittinger and Ball) wrestled super hard in their matches,” Spadoni said. “Obviously, they wanted to do a little better in their matches, but they’ve just to pick themselves back up.”
In addition to Bittinger and Ball, who have been the team’s top wrestlers for several years, getting Zeitner into the tournament was a boon for the Tides’ program.
“He’s a kid that totally bought in,” Spadoni said. “He came to all the summer practices, stayed all through spring, went to summer camps. He’s done the work and has earned going to state this year and placing next year.”
Spadoni is happy with the direction the program is trending in.
“We had a good season, you can see it from our regionals,” Spadoni said. “We had three freshmen make it to regionals. There’s stuff coming in behind these kids that are leaving. That gives me some hope because last year, we brought two sophomores and two juniors, it looked like there was nothing under us. But now we have the legs to the table and there’s something to build on.”